On the 4th of August 2022, Fox was pardoned by the Governor General of St. Kitts and Nevis after serving 25 years and is now a free man living in the UK.
Gary Strydom speaks out in support of Bertil Fox
The day Bertil Fox was released from prison, it marked a momentous occasion in the world of bodybuilding and a significant turning point in the life of his longtime friend, Gary Strydom. While the pardon granted to the convicted murderer raised eyebrows and ignited debates, to Strydom, it was a moment of mixed emotions – one of relief and rekindled hope.
For Gary Strydom, bodybuilding had been his life’s passion and his career. Born in South Africa and later becoming a naturalized American citizen, Strydom was renowned for his impressive physique and accomplishments within the sport. He was a true icon, having clinched the championship title under Vince McMahon’s World Bodybuilding Federation (WBF), a now-defunct organization. Before his venture with the WBF, Strydom had already secured four IFBB professional titles, cementing his legacy as a formidable bodybuilder.
His dedication to the sport was unwavering, but it was not the only venture that Strydom undertook. In 1989, he ventured into the world of bodybuilding clothing with his brand, Crazee Wear. His colorful and baggy pants became an iconic symbol in the bodybuilding community. Strydom’s success transcended the stage; he had built a brand that mirrored his vision and passion for the sport.
One of the critical aspects of Strydom’s life was his friendship with Bertil Fox, a fellow bodybuilder whose life had taken a dark turn. Bertil Fox had been a prominent figure in bodybuilding before a heinous crime altered the course of his life.
Bertil Fox’s case was a tragic tale of love, jealousy, and impulsive actions. He had been in a relationship with Leyoca Browne for two years before she broke it off. Bertil had left for England, and Leyoca had access to his house during his absence. Their story took a dark turn when he discovered that his gun and bullets were missing upon his return. In an attempt to reclaim his belongings, Bertil confronted Leyoca at her dress shop, only to find himself in a fatal confrontation.
In his testimony during the trial, Bertil Fox claimed that a struggle had ensued, leading to the accidental discharge of his gun. Tragically, Leyoca was shot in the back during the altercation. The events that transpired that day would forever alter the lives of those involved. Bertil was arrested and charged with the murder of Leyoca and her mother, Violet. He faced a lengthy legal battle, and despite his account of events, the outcome was a conviction that led to his incarceration.
For Gary Strydom, the ordeal had been a heavy burden to bear. He had witnessed his friend’s fall from grace, from being a celebrated bodybuilder to a convicted murderer. Gary Strydom had followed the case and was convinced of Bertil Fox’s innocence.
Years passed, and while Gary Strydom continued to pursue his passion for bodybuilding, he never forgot the friend he had lost to the criminal justice system. Bertil Fox’s incarceration weighed heavily on his heart. Over the years, Strydom remained in touch with Bertil, offering support and friendship in a time of despair.
When news broke that Bertil Fox had been granted a pardon, the bodybuilding community was abuzz with mixed reactions. To Strydom, it was a moment of relief and hope. He believed that his friend deserved a second chance, an opportunity to rebuild his life. The decision to grant Bertil a pardon was undoubtedly controversial, given the nature of his conviction, but it also symbolized the possibility of redemption and forgiveness.
As Bertil walked out of prison a free man, it was a bittersweet moment. His release marked the end of a dark chapter in his life, and the beginning of a new one filled with uncertainty and challenges. Strydom defended his friend, standing by him as they faced the world together.
The bodybuilding community continued to be divided over Bertil’s pardon, but to Gary Strydom, it was an affirmation of his unwavering belief in Bertil’s innocence. Bertil Fox would now have the opportunity to rebuild his life and find his place in a world that had once shunned him.
For both Strydom and Bertil, the journey ahead was uncertain, but they faced it with the conviction that life could offer a fresh start. While Bertil’s past would always be a part of his story, it was a story that could still be rewritten. In the world of bodybuilding and in the world beyond, their friendship would continue to be a testament to the enduring power of loyalty, second chances, and the hope for a better future.
Bertil and Leyoca had been going together for two years when she broke off the relationship last summer. In late August, The Observer of St. Kitts-Nevis reported, Bertil had finished doing a cycle of injectable steroids when he took off for England, leaving Leyoca with the keys to his house. He reportedly called her twice from London, trying to win her back, but by the time he returned to St. Kitts, on Friday, Sept. 26, she had taken up with another man. Fox testified at his trial that he had discovered upon his return that his gun and bullets and the pouch in which he carried them were missing from his house. He said that on Monday, Sept. 29, he went to the dress shop to retrieve the items. (Contradicting that testimony, Tross later told SI that he saw Fox wearing the gun pouch on his waist on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.)
Fox testified that when he arrived at the shop, Leyoca greeted him, led him inside and told him she had given the gun to Violet “for safekeeping.” Fox said that Violet approached him with the pouch in one hand and the gun in the other, held them above her head and said, teasingly, “These what you want? These what you want?” As Violet approached him, Fox said, she pushed him with the hand carrying the gun, and he grabbed it. In the struggle, he said, the gun went off and Leyoca was shot. (Curiously, she was found lying outside on the veranda, shot in the back.) As he continued to struggle with Violet, Fox said, the gun went off a second time, and she fell. He then fled in his car to Tross’s office, he says, where he told Tross, “Leyoca and her mother just got shot.” Tross, sitting behind Fox while he was testifying, shook his head at that. Tross had testified that Fox had said to him, “I just shot Leyoca and Violet.” A witness who heard the conversation, Leon Issac, Tross’s assistant, corroborated Tross’s version.Sports Illustrated